Jesus Draws All Men vs The Father Draws the Saved

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Challenge #2: Jesus Draws All Men to Himself vs The Father Draws the Ones Who Are Saved

John records two occasions of the work of “drawing” people to faith. These seem to bring out the distinct differences in the works of the Father and the Son. To the skeptic, the two may appear to present an impossibility if taken at face value. Jesus said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”[1] On the other hand he said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”[2] How can this paradox bring out a greater truth that is missing at face value?

Context may help in considering the passage of Jesus being “lifted up.” “And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.”[3] As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, Jesus would be lifted up (also John 3:14).

In John 6, Jesus was equating the story of manna feeding the Israelites with the Christ feeding the people for eternal life. When he refers to the Father drawing, it may be to continue the context of the Exodus lesson. The Father drew the people out of Egypt to a promised land, leading them in a pillar and cloud day after day. The Father drew the people to where the manna would fall.

The Holy Spirit is the drawing power of God. Both Jesus and the Father send the Holy Spirit. The Father sends the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name (John 14:26). Jesus sends the Holy Spirit from the Father (15:26, also 16:7). The Father drawing people does not negate the idea of the Son drawing people.

Now, are all people drawn, or only the ones that Jesus raises up to everlasting life? The Greek verb is the same in both places. Jeremiah says that God draws them with lovingkindness from an everlasting love. This seems to be a permanent salvific blessing. In John 6:65 Jesus changes the wording to “granted” rather than “drawn” by the Father. It is necessary that the Father first grants the possibility of salvation before people are even “drawn”.

Maybe “drawing” is a necessary, but not a sufficient aspect to being saved. There is sense of drawing near that does not lead to salvation (Is. 29:13). I believe that a partial drawing is made available to all people. The Holy Spirit provokes people that end up being resistant to Him. Stephen, in Acts 7:51 told the Jews that they were resistant to the drawing of the Holy Spirit over and over. The Greek word for “draw” in John 6 and 12 ελκυω seems to be stronger than a vocal provoking, but more like a physical reeling in.

In the end of John chapter 6, people seem to turn away from Jesus because the Father had not given it to them (it’s not the word “draw;” it’s the word “give”). These people, who were even called “disciples,” were drawn to Jesus both by his drawing and their interest. Yet they did not entirely come to him. And again in the next chapter, Jesus draws his own kin, inviting them to walk with him, but they do not comply.

Maybe all men being drawn does not result in salvation, but is about judgment: “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”[4] When Jesus says he will raise up the ones that the Father gives/ draws to him, John 6:54 indicates that he is most likely talking about salvation and eternal life.

So Jesus draws all men and saves them all? No, but if he draws all, the saved are also drawn. It could be that “all” refers to the all which are drawn. Jesus is specifying the narrow possibility of who is doing the drawing of mankind. So any and all that are drawn are drawn by Jesus and drawn/granted by the Father.

*(Mark 13:27 must be speaking of a different time when Jesus, through the angels, draws the elect.)

*Many will say that “all men” is the Bible’s way of referring to the Greeks (“sinners”/ “heathen”) as well as the Jews. But if “all men” is limited (unless the context is obvious) why not take it as meaning “all Jews.” Calvinists will say “all men” equals all the elect; the Jews would say that they are that elect group. The logic of each interpretation is the same. That’s why Jesus goes to great lengths to show that the chosen nation rejected him, resulting in the availability of a greater election. If “all men” does actually mean all men, then this seems to be the best way to make sense of 1 Timothy 4:10, which says that Jesus “is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.”[5] The word translated “especially” is μαλιστα, which means “more than this,” “above all,” “especially,” and is not intending to describe the preceding word with “namely” or “even.” I might say it like this: Jesus is the Savior for everyone, but is Savior in a special way to those that believe.

[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Jn 12:32). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Jn 6:44). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Nu 21:9). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[4] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Mt 25:32). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

[5] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (1 Ti 4:10). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

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